Success Stories

Success Comes Early In Interns' Careers

Success Comes Early In Interns' Careers

University of Arizona Space Grant Undergraduate Research Intern David Zahn (2006-07) was awarded two distinctions soon into his first semester as an undergraduate research intern in our program.

The following link is to an excerpt from a letter from David to Susan Brew regarding his recent accomplishments and enthusiasm about the Space Grant program and how it has been a positive element of his semester so far!

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Daniella Giustina Awarded with NIAC Student Fellows Prize

Daniella Giustina Awarded with NIAC Student Fellows Prize

In May of 2006, 2005 UA/NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Research Intern Daniella Della Giustina, an engineering-physics major, was one of five students selected from across the nation to receive a prestigious $9,000 NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Student Fellows Prize to investigate revolutionary ideas for space exploration. She will study the use of near-Earth asteroids for radiation shielding during a human journey to Mars in her prize-winning project titled "The Martian Bus Schedule: An Innovative Technique for Protecting Humans on a Journey to Mars." An extension to this accomplishment, Dani has been named "Student Principal Investigator" for the Discovery-class Osiris Mission, and will engage and lead a team of Space Grant students in her radiation shielding research.

Jenna Root Awarded 1st Place at the UA Student Showcase

Jenna Root Awarded 1st Place at the UA Student Showcase

University of Arizona Space Grant Undergraduate Research Intern Jenna Root (2005-06) was awarded 1st Place for her poster at the UA Student Showcase 2006. She competed in the Undergraduate Student Division in Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. She will be presenting her poster, "Assessing Carbon Dynamics of Coarse Woody Debris in Desert Grasslands" at the Annual Meetings of the Society for Range Management in Reno, NV in Feb 2007.

Launching UA Students from Research Labs to America's High Tech Workforce

Launching UA Students from Research Labs to America's High-Tech Workforce

The Arizona Space Grant Consortium is particularly proud of our statewide fellowships programs. From 1994 to 2002, 999 undergraduate students have participated in mentor-guided research internships in leading-edge scientific programs. A great enhancement to an education, internships contribute to the development of a technically informed, aware and sensitive citizenry--essential to the success of U.S. space endeavors, as well as to broader national priorities. 132 graduate students have received fellowships, propelling them towards careers in America's technical work force. 22% are from groups traditionally underrepresented in science and technical fields; 40% are women.

UA Intern in Driver's Seat of Mars Exploration Rover (MER)

UA Intern in Driver's Seat of Mars Exploration Rover (MER)

Chris Lewicki, was a 1993-94 Arizona Space Grant Intern, and a 1997-1999 Graduate Fellow--not to mention the first student manager of the UA Space Grant Student Satellite Program. He now serves as a member of the Mars Exploration Rovers Assembly, Test and Launch Operations team at JPL. In 2003, two new and powerful Mars "Robotic Geologists", developed by the MER team, will be sent to the red planet. With far greater mobility than the 1997 Mars Pathfinder rover, these rovers will be able to trek up to 100 meters (about 110 yards) per day across the Martian surface. These missions continue NASA's quest to understand the role of water on Mars. Chris is MER Mission Flight Director for the Impact to Egress phase. Chris is responsible for actually "steering" one of the rovers! How cool is that!?!?! For full details on this mission, along with a lot of great pictures, please go to

View an article covering Chris's most recent trip to Arizona, where he was the featured keynote speaker for the 2005-2006 Arizona/NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Research Intern Annual Symposium! This link is featured in our articles page.

Also check out NASA's Offical Marsrover website.

From Space Grant Internship to a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

From Space Grant Internship to a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

1992-93 Intern Warren Brown, and AZSGC's first student to attend the NASA Academy at Goddard, recently reported: "I'm at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, now a post-doctoral Fellow. I'm working on some spectrographs and observing star streams (...remnants of past galaxy mergers) in the outer parts of the Milky Way. I stayed in Cambridge because of a significant other, who recently became my wife. She is of Greek descent, so it was a Big Fat Greek Wedding! We even went to Greece for the honeymoon."

Space Grant Intern Artist Helps Scientists Envision Titan

Space Grant Intern Artist Helps Scientists Envision Titan

UA Space Grant Intern Mark Robertson-Tessi, along with mentor Ralph Lorenz, have been exploring Titan, Saturn's largest satellite. Specifically, Mark's internship has involved studying the landscape of Titan, then rendering images of what the landscape may look like. Below are a few of the images, along with detailed descriptions. Click on each image to view the full-size version.

2012 - Back to Titan. An autonomous airship exploits Titan's thick atmosphere and low gravity to explore the near-surface environment. The airship communicates direct-to-Earth with a large electronically-steered phased-array antenna. Here it uses its thruster fans to hold position in the gentle breeze that is whipping up waves in an ethane lake.Having profiled the depth of the lake with a ground-penetrating radar,the airship is acquiring surface material with a tethered sample acquisition device to analyze it for prebiotic compounds.

TitanAlternate Reality. In this rendering, the Huygens probe (shape model derived from various sources) is about to splash down on the Saturn side of Titan, rather than on the antisaturn side we will actually visit. (In fact, Saturn's proximity to the horizon shows we are close to +/-80 degrees longitude : the orientation of the rings as near-vertical shows we are close to the equator. The sun's position relative to Saturn shows we are close to summer solstice, although from this image you can't tell north from south...) Titan's atmosphere really should be this transparent, at least at some wavelengths accessible to cameras, if not to the naked eye.

A scientifically-inspired artistic rendering of Titan's hypothesized landscape. Seen from a viewpoint 50km up, 


the planetary curvature of Titan (radius 2575km) is evident. A 60-km impact crater, to left, has an updomed floor and a central pit, as seen in craters of this size on the icy satellite Ganymede : On Titan, however, the crater has partially filled with black hydrocarbon liquids - methane and ethane. A few other craters and tectonic landforms litter the landscape, which is only weakly modified by erosion. Distant clouds hover at around 20km altitude.

National Space Grant Student Satellite Program

National Space Grant Student Satellite Program

The Arizona Space Grant Consortium is working to spearhead a National Space Grant Student Satellite Program. Across America, Space Grant students are learning from the ground up—literally—by designing, building, flying and operating a broad range of spacecraft. Students come to our programs with an interest in Space, but with different levels of skill, knowledge, and experience. Missions of growing complexity provide opportunities to acquire baseline skills and then to build on them. They range from the simple—building soda-can “satellites” or small payloads for launch from small rockets or balloons—to building sophisticated satellites. We call this strategy “crawl”, “walk”, “run” and “fly!” Our goal is to make aerospace history and send the first student-built satellites to Mars. These programs bring together University, Industry, Military and Government Resources to Train America’s Future Scientists and Engineers. Space flight projects are an unsurpassed vehicle to engage students in exciting high-level science, engineering and technical learning. Students attest to the fact that these learning experiences—many on the leading edge of technology—provide opportunities, knowledge and skills they do not receive in the classroom.

Space Grant Internships Leads to Science Writing Dream Job and a Lot of Fun

In 1998-99, Thomas Stauffer was awarded a UA/NASA Space Grant Science Writing Internship at the Arizona Daily Star--Arizona's second largest newspaper. This experience led to the career of his dreams. Here is Tom's story:

The NASA Space Grant internship in science writing helped prove to me once and for all that time is not constant. Under the mentorship of Jim Erickson, I wrote more than 80 science stories for the Arizona Daily Star and quickly realized that writing about science was what I really wanted to do. When my internship ended, the Star offered me a part-time job as a police reporter, which expanded to full-time when I graduated in May of 2000. Fast forward to January 2001: Jim has moved on to the Rocky Mountain News, the Star needs a science reporter, and on the basis of my Space Grant experience, I get the job! (Exclamation points are frowned on in the newspaper business but I had to make an exception back there.) Less than two years after my internship began, here I am writing about the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft landing on Asteroid 433 Eros, realizing that as corny as it sounds, time really does fly when you're having fun.

Intern Comes Full Circle at UA

Intern Comes Full-Circle at UA

Dante Lauretta was a University of Arizona/NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Research Intern in 1992. We knew we could expect great things from Dante. In 2000, after completing a Ph.D. from Washington University, and serving as a postdoc at Arizona State University, Dante was hired to the UA Department of Planetary Sciences/the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory--home department for Space Grant in Arizona. Dr. Lauretta's research interests focus on the origin and chemical evolution of the solar system. He studies the chemistry of the solar nebula, the cloud of gas and dust from which our solar system formed, by combining theoretical and experimental modeling of these environments with characterization of primitive meteorites. His main research interest is the formation and alteration of minerals in the solar nebula and on meteorite/parent asteroids. This work is important for identifying pristine solar nebula condensates in primitive meteorites, determining whether chemical reactions had enough time to reach equilibrium in the solar nebula, understanding the origin of complex organic molecules in the early solar system, and constraining the initial chemical inventories of the terrestrial planets. He is also currently working on the application of inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry to geologic studies. Currently, he is studying the extent of Hg isotopic fractionation in natural systems. This project represents a potentially new stable isotope system with applications in meteoritics, geology, biogeochemistry, and environmental studies. And to bring Dante's story to full-circle, he serves as a research mentor for our UA Space Grant Undergraduate Research Internship Program!